WestWind Tugboat Adventures
Luxury Small Ship Cruising - Calm Water, Breathtaking Coastal Scenery, Wildlife Viewing, and Fabulous Cuisine
Cruise the waters from Vancouver to British Columbia's most northern seaport, Prince Rupert. This magnificent piece of the "Inside Passage" of B.C. is cut with picturesque channels and fiords, bordered by snow capped mountains, glaciers and evergreen forests that seem to grow right out of the water.
The skipper and crew are eager to pamper you and the shipboard atmosphere is totally relaxing. Guests are encouraged to visit the pilot house and take a turn at the wheel or a tour of the spotless engine room and watch the smooth operation of this antique engines.
How to Get Here
Two of the most common questions I receive from prospective guests are “Where are you out of?” and “how do I get to the Tugboat?”
Westwind’s daily mobility and seasonal relocations add to the questions of where do the Tugboats operate and how to get there. We have chosen three separate regions in the remote northern British Columbia coast, each for their abundance of salmon runs, spectacular scenery, natural wildlife and seclusion.
Prince Rupert/Langara – May/June/July
Prince Rupert is serviced by Canada’s international Airline, Air Canada and can be accessed from all major cities in the USA and abroad. We have travel agents who have special adventure rates from the United States to Prince Rupert and we recommend considering these options as the savings can be considerate.
Westwind has also made arrangements with Vancouver Airport and Prince Rupert area hotels that offer you a special Tugboat rate while also shuttling you to and from your connecting flights, storing your frozen and professionally packaged catch and offering you free vehicle parking while gone on your tugboat adventure.
Bella Bella - August /September
To ease your travel plans, Westwind in association with British Columbia’s largest regional airline, Pacific Coastal Airlines has reserved space for all guests on very comfortable land based aircraft for flights from Vancouver B.C. to the Bella Bella airport. A five-minute shuttle follows the flight taking guests to the vessel at dockside where Westwind’s crew is waiting to greet you. Guests need only make arrangements to get to Vancouver B.C. which can be easily accessed from anywhere in North America.
Some guests are combining a Tugboat Adventure with an extended motor vacation. There are a few locations you can join us from. If you are doing a tour of Vancouver Island in August/September you could fly out of Port Hardy on the north end and join us 100 miles north in the Bella Bella region or catch a ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert in early July and join us fishing and cruising on the waters of this majestic BC/Alaska border region before carrying on to the Alaska highway and the rest of your adventure. Of course you could drive to Prince Rupert from Calgary or Vancouver, a spectacular scenic drive, there is facilities to park your vehicle in Prince Rupert while on your Westwind Tugboat Adventure. There is also ample, secure parking at the Vancouver Airport if you choose to join us on the reserved flights from Vancouver.
- All weather floater jackets
- Rain gear, boots, hats
- Hair dryers, soaps and shampoos
- Fluffy bath towels and robes
- Extra pillows, socks, water bottles, sunscreen
Dress is casual on board the vessel. The normal daily temperatures range from 65°F to 75°F, evening 55°F to 65°F, so “layering” your clothing is ideal for our coastal climate.
- T-shirts and jeans, shorts optional
- Long sleeved shirt, sweater or fleece jacket
- Deck shoes or runners and warm socks
- Personal toiletries, sunglasses
- Camera or video
We will send you Westwind luggage tags. Please attach one tag to the handle of each piece of luggage you are bringing. Due to airline regulations, please limit your baggage to 35 lbs. Soft-sided luggage (duffel bag) is preferred.
Guests arriving from outside Canada must have proper ID to clear Canada Customs. Current regulations state that you must have a passport to re-enter U.S.A.
On Board Amenities:
Comfort is a tradition at Westwind. To ensure our guests feel right at home on board the vessel we provide:
- An extensive library of local, cultural and marine reference reading
- DVD movies and extensive music collection
- Complimentary beer and wine
- Ship to shore radio communication
We supply everything for the saltwater angler including a valid fishing license. Our state of the art fishing skiffs are 18 foot welded catamarans, equipped with whisper quiet Honda 4 stroke outboards, radios and fish finders. Our skiffs are designed to comfortably accommodate 2 or 3 anglers safely.
- All fishing tackle, bait and lures, including crab traps
- Light and medium duty salmon fishing rods and reels
- Light and medium spin casting rods and reels and lures suitable for salt and fresh water
- A complete inventory of halibut and bottom fishing rods and tackle
- Professional fishing guides for on-water supervision, local knowledge and instruction.
Guests will be issued fishing licenses and provided with an informative fishing seminar which will include the most productive fishing methods, tackle tips and an orientation about the operation of our fishing skiffs. Guests are able to choose between running their own skiff or being accommodated in the guided boat for private instruction.
Caring for your Catch:
Your catch is expertly cleaned, frozen and packaged for shipment home in airline approved containers at no extra charge. For guests selecting custom processing, canning or smoking, we provide samples and complete all details and paperwork on board. We arrange shipment of your catch to the cannery where it will be processed and delivered to your door approximately five weeks later.
The Pacific Northwest is the mecca for old tugboats in North America and many boats which were retired and put out to pasture years ago are still floating and providing useful service to a variety of owners.
The main reason for this is the sheer number of vessels built and, more importantly, the quality of construction and use of the best materials and craftsmen. The Pacific Northwest contains some of the world's best forests and it didn't take long for ship builders to utilize a product that was in their own backyard and for this reason almost all of the west coast tugs were built of wood; and the wood of choice was the mighty Douglas Fir mixed with Yellow Cedar and Ironbark or Gumwood.
These early builders chose only the finest materials for these seagoing workhorses as they didn't want to take any chances with wear and down time so everything was increased in size and strength just for good measure. The long, tight grain of the west coast woods made them ideal for ships masts and spars for the sailing age, but there was plenty of good lumber available for the local fleets of ferries, fish boats and, of course, tugs. Tugboats were considered essential to every industry and, as the population and seaports grew, tugboat owners were the first to insist on the most reliable engines and the best boat builders for their fleets.
The shipyards on the west coast were conveniently located right next to the sawmills which produced the finest lumber for boat building, spars, bridges and air planes. The highest grade seasoned materials with no knots, tight grain, no sap was used for aircraft and boats. Sitka Spruce was the wood of choice for air planes and Douglas Fir, Port Oxford Cedar were the choices for boats. The fabulous strength and size of Douglas Fir made it a natural for decking and large beams required for work boats and tugs while Yellow Cedar was also sought for some structural applications because of its natural rot resistance due to oil content.
The PARRY was built for the Canadian Navy as a patrol and towing vessel during World War II. It was sold to the Hydrographic Service where she worked year round charting the B.C. coast until being sold privately in 1968. The Parry had almost no down time and was operated year round in all types of weather and at least one hurricane. Now that the Parry has been "retired" from active duty she is back in top shape as she performs her new role of cruising on the Inside Passage and offering a comfortable home to passengers while sight-seeing, whale watching or fishing. With the antique engine and old fashioned wheelhouse, the Parry brings back a nostalgic glimpse of an era on the Northwest coast and the people who worked on these many boats that plied the Inside Passage."
The most famous and common engines found in tugboats on the Pacific Coast were the Union, Atlas, Enterprise out of San Francisco and Seattle, Washington and Vivian from Vancouver. Many other companies created smaller engines for fish boats and pleasure but the big, slow turning, heavy duties were the choice for the tugboat fleet. These engines resembled in some ways their steam counterparts and the early diesels were very much a manual hand operated oiled rockers and valves to manual operation of cams and starting gear, the engineer was very much in control as in the steam era.
Now that fuel economy has become a hot issue, boat owners are looking favorably again at heavy duty engines but there are not many to be had and their size does present mounting problems in most boats. If there is no problem, then a slow turning engine can be a great benefit to an owner providing he has a good engineer to keep an eye on things.
The first diesels came without a gear box and were direct drive and reversible when the engine was stopped and restarted. This was accomplished by shifting the camshaft which has 2 sets of lobes: one for ahead and another identical for astern. After the engine is stopped, the cam was quickly moved onto the new lobes usually with the assistance of air and then air is injected into the appropriate cylinder to make the engine rotate in the proper direction and start when the fuel is applied. Even though this sounds awkward it was amazing how quickly the engine could be stopped and started again in the opposite direction. The engineers were quick to respond once the telegraph command was received. Later with the introduction of wheelhouse command using cable or air controls, the skipper was in charge which eliminated the longest delay and made operation very agile and simple. The direct reversing engines peaked about World War II when the first high speed, light weight diesels were built to accommodate the war effort. With smaller dimensions and higher RPM resulting in a more compact engine that was cheaper to build it wasn't long before the heavy duty engines were out of business."
The Parry engine is slightly more modern than some vessels of it’s age because it incorporates a newer fuel delivery system and has enclosed rockers and valves which almost eliminates hand oiling. The shifting of the camshaft with air is the same procedure and the operation is practically identical with even better fuel economy due to the smaller diameter pistons - 9 inch versus 12 inch. The engine on the PARRY is estimated to have over 200,000 hours of service which is phenomenal today but not a record by any means.